The outcome of the parliamentary elections in Serbia gave me both a sense of relieve and of cautious hope for the immediate and long term future of the citizens of Serbia, as well as for the citizens of her neighbor countries.
I should probably be writing about what this election means for democratic values etc etc etc and about my hope that these results represent a watershed, or probably just presenting a cold analysis on the possible coalition deals. Instead of these kind of reflexions that are generally expected to be produced by a political scientist, here I am sharing my feeling of reward for the defeat of the bullying strategy. I am feeling like when I was a small school girl and my younger sister beated up some of the bullies that for several days had been persecuting me all over the school yard. I felt then that my dignity had been restored, and that never again I would have to fear thugs, because they no more than cowards who relie on their chosen victims perceived weakness.
During the last months (or should I say the last decades?), normal serbian citizens have been constantly subjected to psychological blackmail, being constantly reminded that their ethnic belonging obliged them to sacrifice their legitimate goals of having a decent peaceful life in order to pursue the supreme patriotic and spiritual goal of getting Kosovo back, because, without Kosovo, Serbia could not exist, just as a body cannot survive without its heart.
Those who were identified as capable of resisting such pressure were subject to intimidation, in open or insidious ways. I don’t like bullies, and it gives me great pleasure to imagine their intimate thoughts and to think how humiliated they amust be feeling now, and how they must be thinking how ungrateful are the citizens of Serbia not to recognize their sincere effort to preserve the spiritual unity of the country.
I am aware that this is a mean thought, but I have strong reasons to feel this sense of reward. I felt the oppressive environment that I had the chance to observe on my last trip to Belgrade as unbearable, and the idea that it could bear fruit had been haunting me since then. I though of my friends who had to cope with this on an everyday basis, and of the prospect of them being denied a normal life in a normal country.
Most of the Serbian voters didn’t need to be intimidated or induced into passivity, because they gladly supported political parties that openly promote racism, hatred and agression against whoever they decide o label as enemies. Serbia will remain a divided society, and the possibility that the fragile balance may shift to the wrong side will remain, as long as those decent normal citizens do not fully recognize that the values and life standards that they claim to themselves also apply to their neighbors, and that being free means also the responsibility to recognize and take measures to help repair all the suffering imposed on others in the name of the nation to which they belong.
I am not a particularly optimistic person, but neither am I a prophet of disgrace. It also happens that I come from a country which some very prestigious political scientist considered culturally unfit for democracy, and History has proved them wrong. If slavery, colonialism, apartheid could be defeated, racism too can be fought, and then a young man in Belgrade will not have to secretly self-learn albanian, nor will there be any problem that kosovar citizens visit this beautiful city just for the pleasure of a walk in Kalamegdan park.
As for me, I can’t hardly wait to return to Belgrade. I’ve just found myself the proper excuse. It happens that I need to buy some collorful new shoe laces… and as I can’t find them anywhere else, I’ll take the chance to drink some turkish coffe with my friends, and, who knows, I may even have a Big Mac at Slavija (most probably I’ll stick to cheese burek, but we never know)